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Crit / Journal of the American Institute of Architecture Students / Spring 2010 / Issue 69
Students
American
Institute of
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Journal of the
2010
Spring
69
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Architects
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Journal of the Spring Issue
American 2010 69
Institute of
Architecture
Students

03 Editorial: Architects Without Architecture

Comments 04 Re-Scheming Pyramid Scheming


06 It doesn’t take an architect…
08 Interview: Ole Bouman on Survival

Features 12 Cedric Price’s Generator


18 An Account of the Epicenter
22 SAMBO: Architecture’s Architect
24 Project, Management, Rhetoric

Projects 28 Pike Street Loop


33 Scoring Myrtle Avenue
36 Paper Space
40 Big Box

42 Overcoming the Internal Struggle


44 URL + Architect ≠ Architecture
46 Why Architects Hate Sustainability
50 Unsolicited Architecture
64 Submit: Crit 70–Overproduction

Reviews 54 Bohemian Flats Boathouse


58 Livable Communities
60 Municipal Courthouse
64 Last Word: “The Profanation of Solitude”

Editor-in-Chief Zachary R. Heineman Graphic Design Design Army


Publisher Je’Nen Chastain, Assoc. AIA
Associate Publisher Matthew Fochs
Editorial Assistant: Kevin Mulvaney

Crit, a celebration of student work in the field of architecture (ISSN 0277 6863), is
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Cert no. SW-COC-002582


Architects Without
Architecture

In his 1964 MoMA exhibition/book Architecture without even as the training remains, by and large, the same. Zachary R. Heineman
Architects, Bernard Rudofsky cataloged centuries of Hollein was half-right, half-wrong; everything may
vernacular buildings “produced not by specialists be architecture, but not everyone is an architect. 2009-2011 Editor-in-Chief
but by the spontaneous and continuing activity of Architects can look around and identify architectural
a whole people.” Architecture, as both a profession problems; not everyone can.
and an institution, was being condemned as inwardly-
focused, self-interested and elitist. Similar sentiments But within architecture, the fallout from the Sixties
followed, from Hans Hollein (“Everyone is an architect. is everywhere, having created various schisms or
Everything is architecture.”) and Peter Cook (“The “camps” that quite often mirror the cliché dialectics that
prepackaged frozen lunch is more important than have plagued the discipline for too long (“Form versus
Palladio.”), among others. function, not again!,” Ole Bouman laments). The dots
are not always so easy to connect, but at some level the
Whereas Rudofsky was asking whether architecture debate is reduced to questions of priorities and ethics,
needed architects (it did not), this issue asks, which can be divisive, particularly when considered out
fundamentally, whether architects need architecture. of context. What is preferable is a general acceptance of
And if architects do not need architecture, what do what architects can do, not what they need to do.
they need? Some would argue that they need little
more than a problem to solve. In that case, disciplinary The rise of information technologies over the past few
anxiety over what architecture is or can be becomes decades has significantly decentralized the power
secondary to the training and thought processes that traditionally held by governments, corporations,
are specific to the discipline. professional organizations, and cultural gatekeepers.
Blogging has challenged the newspaper, cheap video
As Fred Scharmen points out, defending architecture cameras and YouTube have challenged Hollywood,
as “belonging” to architects is problematic, given and open-source programs have challenged the
the term has been hijacked and there is no going big software companies of the world. None of this is
back. Google searches result more often in computer news, but the impact of these shifts in the relationship
science babble than with anything that relates to between producers and consumers is just beginning
buildings. But that is the point; architects do not need to be understood. Architecture, lying at that junction
architecture to be theirs. If anything, the power of the of production and consumption, can only hold out
architect is expanded as the definition is broadened, for so long. C

03
projects projects

Re-Scheming
Architects, now finding themselves with fewer and
fewer actual buildings to design, have the opportunity

Pyramid to move beyond their annoyance at this re-appro-


priation of a regulated and difficult-to-earn profes-

Scheming sional title. The use of the word to describe malevolent


power-hungry masterminds is a clue to the kinds of
things we should be doing: taking better control over
our agency as political actors.

Architects have been engaged in political processes at


least since the time of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote,
“Design activity and political thought are indivisible.”
To track politics is to track the planning, zoning, and
funding channels that shape projects. Politics provides
a context which it is at least as influential as the physi-
cal environment in which buildings exist.

“The reputation of all of the people who were the In some respects, architects already use political
architects of this war is shot.” means on a daily basis, as facilitators and community
–Cokie Roberts organizers. Before a project’s outcome is tested at
1:1 scale in the real world, its viability is tested again
Use of the word “architect” as a metaphor will forever and again on a different site—the conference table.
be indifferent to the National Council of Architectural All politics is local. At every meeting, the architect
Registration Boards‘ efforts to protect the professional carries the responsibility of advocacy for the non-
title. Anyone in the business of designing buildings existent object. While listening and learning from all
who has done a job search has experienced the frus- the constituents—clients, consultants, users, culture,
tration of finding their results clogged with calls for material, climate—the architect must also facilitate and
“Software Architects,” “Information Architects,” and maintain the group consensus long enough to create
“Systems Architects.” something at the end of the process.

Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, and others This is the key to the hijacking of the term architect by
have all been called “the architects of the Iraq War.” USA other professions, and also the reason why its use in an
Today has referred to Ponzi schemer/scammer Bernard expanded sense can be recaptured to the benefit of our
Madoff as an architect. In the cultural imagination, archi- own discipline. People working in software and interac-
tects do not just design pyramids, they design pyramid tivity realize that the best models for making things at a
schemes. What’s an evil super-villain without plans? certain scale and complexity are found within architec-
ture. No other field needs to wrangle so much diverse
The word has come to be used to describe anyone who input, and few others have consistently made output
is engaged in the long-term organization and production with so much potential long-term cultural influence.
of singular, constructed output, whether that output is a We can cede the use of the word to describe a general
building, a website, or a war (or, as in the case of The method of working and making, as long as we make
Architect from The Matrix trilogy of films, an entire simu- sure that method stays true to the values and techniques
lated exploitive reality). that have made our own best work so impactful.
crit69 spring 2010
Fred Scharmen

Scharmen is a cofounder of
D:center Baltimore and works
for Ziger/Snead Architects.
He received a BS in Archi-
tecture from the University of
Maryland and an MArch from
Yale School of Architecture.

Image: Pyramid of Cestius


by Piranesi, courtesy of
Wikimedia Commons.

Once we have defined architecture as a method, we Self-awareness, theory, discourse, community, and
can start to ask questions of other disciplines to find out surplus—these are the things that the discipline of archi-
if the method is applicable. A preliminary set of ques- tecture has to offer other fields that make things. These
tions would include: Are you self-critical? Do you have are also the skill sets that those trained as architects can
a coherent set of ideas that parallels production and bring with them as they move into other jobs. Just as
allows you to talk about why you make certain choices? journalists are asking themselves about the essential
Are you able to position those ideas relative to the ideas nature of writing and publishing, now that the older
of other peers and define a space for conversation or models for making money in those professions have
debate? Is the task large enough that it requires a divi- become destabilized, we architects have the oppor-
sion of labor, a split between concept and execution, tunity to reorient and reprioritize our own work. When
and the continuous maintenance of evolving consensus architecture is seen as an act of cultural production
between multiple stakeholders? Do you contribute to through political means, we have a chance to renew
the public realm? Do you add more to the solution of a the possibilities of our profession and our training, and
problem than the simple fulfillment of the brief? use our schemes for good instead of evil. C

05
COMMENTS comments

You Don’t Need An Architect


To Know Which Way The Wind Blows...

Fred C. Scharmen In bold white on black, the title alone, Architecture After decades of theory-heavy methods that used archi-
Without Architects, was explicit in its implications. tecture as an expressive vessel for figurative meaning
Bernard Rudofsky’s “short introduction to non-ped- and suggestion, many contemporary architects similarly
igree architecture” was not another patronizing tour struggle for methods that realize radical social change.
of global exoticness. As a step in Rudofsky’s lifelong In recent years there has been a rapid growth in the
tirade against Euro-centric design culture, it demon- number of organizations, university programs, publica-
strated that contrary to Western convention, architec- tions and practitioners working toward an architecture
ture flourished beyond the institutions of architecture. of activism, seen as effective in directly addressing the
While architecture was customarily defined within ills of the world. As architects and architecture students
the realms of architect-design villas, skyscrapers, focus on the problems of displaced, disadvantaged and
cathedrals and palazzi, vernacular architecture was “common” people, humanitarian concerns are increas-
something inevitable, arising from the needs and ingly being framed in architectural terms: social hous-
cultures of people. ing, disaster relief, sustainability and infrastructure.

The 1964 publication reflected the emerging zeit- Yet in answering this call to arms, whose call is being
geist set on breaking down race, class and cultural answered?
boundaries and the institutions that upheld them.
While mass revolt raged in China, Cuba and against The non-architects praised by Rudofsky are now the
American forces in Vietnam, the Western revolutionary full-fledged discontents of globalization, their local
movements struggled to realize their ideals at home. economies, way of life and culture wrecked by the
After years of protest and debate with dissatisfying effects of our exported free-market economy. Is a
results, many wanted to establish methods that cut well-designed structure of repurposed PVC pipes and
through symbolic opposition and activated real social pallets really a direct response?
change. Yet even those who took up bombs and arms
soon realized the elusive nature of real effect: the In the current model of architecture as activism, the chal-
Weathermen’s attempt to destroy the Pentagon with lenges of design are too often seen as being interchange-
bombs was not unlike the Yippies’ attempt to levitate it able for the larger challenges of our time, making the
with vibes alone—both expressed disapproval against decipherable solutions of the first act as stand-ins to
what the building stood for and an inability to material- the incomprehensible latter. In order to more realisti-
ize that disapproval effectively. While the Weathermen cally address those challenges, a more critical dialog and
continued to carry out what they understood as responsive methods are needed. Although architects can
“symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at design for democratic processes, community building and
monuments to war and racism,” the keys to ending empowerment of the disadvantaged, this is purely gestural
war and racism remained elusive and still do. and suggestive. Conversely, the pre-occupation solely
with action and implementation follows paths that lead In the end, the majority of activist architecture seems Melissa j. Frost
to easy moves rather than real change. As Slavoj Zizek geared towards guaranteeing the architect’s relevancy
frantically warned on Democracy Now: “Don’t get caught and possession of architecture, but, as it has been Frost has a BS in architec-
ture from the University of
into a fake discourse of humanitarian emergency.”1 clearly pointed out, architecture is simply not ours to
Pennsylvania and works for
share. In the division of labor, architects have always Snarkitecture in Brooklyn, NY.
The current model of “do-gooder” architecture exem- enjoyed a standing of respect and worth; as this is due
plifies this trap. Working from a simplified state of less and less to technical necessity, there is a grow- Image: Courtesy of
emergency, it not only fails to directly address the ing dependence on social and conceptual merit. As the author
larger problems, but actually maintains them. In mak- reflected by the newly green-washed grocery aisles and 1. Interview with Amy Goodman,
12 May 2008 (http://www.
ing it every citizen’s responsibility to help the disad- Rudofsky’s bold statement, we recognize the necessity democracynow.org/2008/5/12/
vantaged, it does not call out those accountable for of re-designs that postpone our expiration date. And world_renowned_philosopher_
slavoj_zizek_on).
creating the disadvantages. In making poverty and rightfully so! If we do not step outside of mis-conceived
2. Craig Dykers, Guggenheim Museum
powerlessness more comfortable, it disregards the institutions and ill-conceived methods, architecture will roundtable, 19 January 2010.
worsening imbalance of wealth and power. It simplifies continue on without us as it always has. C
complex problems so that feel-good goals are achiev-
able. Disillusioned and critical reactions are kept at bay,
perpetuating a constant state of spring cleaning. Busied
by the continual symptoms, there is no time to consider
the cause. As humanitarian aid programs are often the
friendly bolsters of NAFTA, the World Bank, the IMF and
the military, humanitarian aid workers have to consider
what they inadvertently perpetuate.

Foremost, we must consider how we, as architects,


might further the hierarchical system with our valiant
attempts to usurp it. Often, the mentality and the role of
the architects in humanitarian projects mimic the kind of
power structures their designs supposedly discourage.
As a head architect of Snohetta proclaimed while lectur-
ing about their charitable projects: “As architects, we are
mediators of democracy…and this was our payback
to the community…they get to design with us.”2 These
prized and flaunted benevolent projects all-too-often
serve as thinly-veiled self-elevation.

07
Ole Bouman:
On Survival

Ole Bouman is the director of the Netherlands Greed is the obsession with wealth, so excessive it
Architecture Institute (NAI) and contributing edi- becomes obscene. Architecture becoming obsessed
tor to Volume, a journal produced by the Archis with itself is not a good sign of health. People easily
Foundation, AMO (the research division of OMA) bash it by calling it architect’s architecture, a collector’s
and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning item for vain clients with large pocketbooks.
and Preservation of Columbia University (GSAPP).
He is co-author of The Invisible in Architecture(1994), The second part of your question is more dangerous:
RealSpace in QuickTimes (1996), and Architecture You seem to be hinting at the risk of “do-gooderism”
of Consequence (2010). He has curated exhibitions as a socially-accepted costume for the same obses-
for the Milan Triennale, Manifesta 3, and Museum sion. It is easy to identify this fake moralism if you
Boijmans Van Beuningen. His articles have been pub- start to notice major shifts in peoples’ position within
lished in The Independent, Artforum, De Gids, Domus, the discipline. If someone made their career with
Harvard Design Review, El Croquis, Arquitectura & disengaged postmodern theory or the production of
Viva, Proiekt Russia and elsewhere. He taught a stu- iconic buildings for instance—doing little to situate
dio at MIT in 2007 on “Unsolicited” architecture. creativity towards the common good—then a shift
towards social responsibility or housing for the poor
Orhan Ayyüce: What if I said that architecture was needs some additional scrutiny with respect to hon-
obsolete, unable to match the current complexities esty. But if architecture needs to recalibrate its mis-
of mass public, economics, politics, conflicts and sion and discourse, then all talent is needed, even if
power? That, having become increasingly compla- it wakes up late.
cent and heavily produced by and for the upper
class of the society (in the exaggerated sense of Ayyüce: What about popular architectural
Ivy League schools, corporate paychecks and media? Content and advertising are often hard to
boutique offices), it is an expensive product that distinguish, and the desire to be published both
only survives by following the money. And that, feeds and contaminates architectural practice.
being pedictably occupied with ways of feeding
its own development, it has turned unabashedly Bouman: If architectural media is facilitating a mar-
toward do-gooder positivism and has become a ket, it tends to turn into a commodity. If it is simply
mouthpiece for conservative liberalism. covering what is done (info updates), how it is done
(technical stories) or by whom (celebrity press), then
Ole Bouman: If the elite does not take on its social it is purely derivative, a secondary economy of first-
responsibilities, than the elite is not an elite. If you give hand production. This is not particularly destructive to
yourself a bonus for failure, the end is always near. The architecture, but is not productive either. Architecture
crit69 spring 2010

worst thing that could happen to architecture (as with needs a culture of speculation, reflexivity, and good
any cultural endeavor) is that it would be too widely storytelling. Architecture cannot thrive without the
associated not with wealth, but with greed. It would continued probing of its promise.
then, for the majority of people, soon lose its legitimacy.
I associate architecture with a world of ideas, of cul- urbanism in the Gulf is not the ultimate gentrifica- Orhan Ayyüce
tural analysis, historical backgrounds, psychological tion, but rather the only possible way to redeem that
set ups, technological revolutions, social tenden- region from its geography (apparently by whatever Ayyüce teaches at California
Polytechnic State University
cies, and economical models. In Architecture of means are necessary). This has never been done
Pomona and is a Senior Editor
Consequence, I try to reconnect architecture with the before in history, and if it succeeds, the results will at Archinect.com.
burning issues of our time, to restore its relevance for be disastrous for the so-called West, which will start
society. Architecture, the lucid organization of space, to realize that with all its thirst for oil, it has funded
is the pinnacle of human inventiveness. It deserves its own new competitors on the world stage. But if
our best minds. it fails, the accumulated fossil wealth of millions of
years will be wasted on a fata morgana in only a
Ayyüce: Speaking of the best minds, I have few decades.
been looking at photographs of Abu Dhabi’s
Happiness [Saadiyat] Island, a science-fictionally Ayyüce: With that in mind, what if somebody
named, post-medieval, ultra-hyper-culture city, said “architecture is dead?”
colonized by American and European art dealers
and populated with the Louvre and Guggenheim. Bouman: Architecture as our capacity to perfect
It is a form of speculative unilateral culture gentri- shelter is never dead as long as we have a body in
fication and marketing that is housed in venues need of it. Architecture as our capacity to organize
designed by leading architects with medals. Can space wisely is not dead as long as we do something
you dissect this for us? What is it? with that body. But yes, architecture as the art of
expressing ourselves in built form may be comatose
Bouman: It is easy to dissect, but far more difficult to for a while, since now higher stakes are to be met.
comprehend. Happiness Island is the perfect exam- Architecture is much more resilient than other arts,
ple of the current practice of “urbanism by speech”, because it serves all levels of Maslow’s pyramid.
which starts with a story or an image and seduces Architecture has no successor. If architecture is dead,
people and capital to be spent on it. Instead of we are dead. It is indispensable. The issue is not
consolidating reality, this method creates it. Some whether it is dead or alive, but whether it lives up to
see it as a fake operation of epic proportions, but the expectations of today.
I myself describe it as the ultimate social-historical
gamble, not just sheer speculation. Something may Ayyüce: So, what are the expectations then?
go terribly wrong, but there is also a possibillity of
rescuing current prosperity from almost certain col- Bouman: We need architecture for more than self
lapse. We cannot judge it from the general perspec- expression. Architecture, by definition, reflects the
tive of the discipline. We need to understand it from adventures of modernity. This will continue. But what
the regional perspective in which global players are is happening at the moment is the detachment of

09
lured in. At some historical moments urban decency modernity from the forces that have driven it for 500
is not enough to move forward. The extremely rapid years: individualism and geography. Architecture, up
until now an encounter between an individual architect ture needs to meet today are simply too big for that.
and a place to build, will not be left untouched by this And the time pressure to resolve those urgencies is
paradigm shift. simply too great to leave it to personal choice.

Of course you can understand examples like We are increasingly coming to realize that for far too
Happiness Island as the last stages of a disciplinary long society has been privatizing gains and socializing
solipsism and hubris. But what interests me more is losses, resulting in an intense crisis of the economic
how they can be interpreted as examples of a moder- system. Humanity faces enormous challenges that, for
nity that has entirely lost its connection to geography. many or for all, have become existential threats. Food
And there is, of course, a more general motive that chains are undermined, public health is at risk, energy
needs to be taken into account. Think of Knossos, is running out, living space has become cramped, the
Chartres, Versailles, Magnitogorsk; you cannot deny valuable time of our lives is slipping away, and social
humanity’s quest for grandeur. We will always have cohesion is in decline. We cannot deny these realities,
Icarus; the goal is not to get rid of him but to have him nor avoiding coping with them.
fly in the right direction.
And we need all the help we can get. In meeting these
Ayyüce: You mentioned your recent book, challenges no creative discipline, creative individual, or
Architecture of Consequence. Is the architecture creative country can remain passive. And architecture
discipline ready for a game change, and if so, has an even a more direct role to play. Since all these
what form will it take? issues have strong spatial implications, architecture
has a special obligation to help resolve them. There
Bouman: Architecture of Consequence is about a is a whole set of strategies and techniques to think
transition from image to performance. Of course we about, all based on a strong will to resolve rather than
have seen this kind of shift before. Perhaps it is the to express. This the mindset of the shareware genera-
key antagonism that energizes architecture in mod- tion. To share space, time, services, materials, energy,
ern times. Form versus function—oh no, not again. public space and wealth. And, I am not talking about
However, this time the antagonism cannot be resolved socialism here—I am talking about survival.
at the level of the building, by choosing to be formalist
rather than functionalist or vice versa. Or to focus on An unabridged version of this interview was first pub-
facade over ground plan, etc. These dialectic opposi- lished on Archinect.com. C
tions have lost their appeal, as the urgencies architec-
crit69 spring 2010
Site plan for Generator (detail); colored pencil, porous point pen and stamp pad ink on diazotype; original drawing: 35.7 x 70 cm; DR1995:0280:406
ARCHITECTURE
THAT KICKS BACK
Price developed a scheme of 150 12’ by 12’ mobile,
combinable cubes constructed with off-the-shelf infill
panels, glazing and sliding glass doors. To this kit of
parts, he added catwalks; screens and boardwalks, all
of which could be moved by mobile crane as desired
by users to support whatever activities they had in
mind, whether public or private, serious or banal.

The initial arrangements for “Generator—menus,”


as he called them, would be determined through a
set of programmatic research tools. Potential users
of Generator listed all the activities they might want

Cedric Price’s to do at the White Oak Plantation, such as reading,


watching a film, picking one’s nose, writing poetry,

Generator learning about history, going on a walk. They then


rated the requirements for the activities they listed in
Cedric Price (1934–2003), the famously iconoclastic terms of infrastructure, space, quietness and privacy.
British architect, understood architecture as the means Finally, using a little handheld Three Peg Game, Price
for setting conditions for interaction, as opposed to determined the first layouts for Generator. The rules for
imposing the formal will of the designer. Famous for the game were simple: take turns with the other player
statements like, “Technology is the answer, but what in forming a line of three same-colored pegs, whether
was the question?” and for suggesting that architec- vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The game, the
ture might not be the right solution to a problem— requirements and the activity questionnaire created
“Maybe you don’t need a new house. Maybe you what he called menus: arrangements of Generator’s
need to leave your wife.”—Price questioned the very cubes, screens and paths that would engage people
conditions and requirements of architecture.1 He incor- in unexpected interactions with each other and with
porated an array of interests into his work, including Generator as they used it.
cybernetics, demolition, theater, politics, British his-
tory, the educational system and even cooking. Best The notion of changing the architecture of a retreat
known for the Fun Palace (1963-67), a collaboration center, Price realized, would prove unfamiliar to
with radical theater director Joan Littlewood, and the Generator’s visitors. He created roles for two peo-
Potteries Thinkbelt, a mobile university on rails (1965), ple, “Polariser” (Barbara Jakobson, a trustee at the
both unbuilt, and the completed Snowdon Aviary in Museum of Modern Art who introduced Price to
the London Zoo (1960–63 with Frank Newby), Price Gilman) and “Factor,” (Wally Prince, the operations
maximized the ways for users to actualize themselves manager for Gilman’s White Oak Plantation). They
as they interacted with his architectural projects. were to catalyze on-site interpersonal dynamics and
logistical requirements. Polariser would encourage
Generator (1976-79) sought to create conditions for people to use Generator in novel ways and facilitate
shifting, changing personal interactions in a reconfigu- their interactions with each other; Factor would set into
rable and responsive architectural project. It was to motion the desires of Generator’s users onsite, operat-
serve as a retreat and activity center for small groups ing the mobile crane to suit the menu and handling
of visitors (1 to 100) at the White Oak Plantation on the other human-to-site requirements.
coastal Georgia-Florida border. Designed for Howard
Gilman, the CEO of the Gilman Paper Company and a
generous arts patron, it followed this open-ended brief:
“A building which will not contradict, but enhance, the
feeling of being in the middle of nowhere; has to be
accessible to the public as well as to private guests;
has to create a feeling of seclusion conducive to cre-
crit69 spring 2010

ative impulses, yet...accommodate audiences; has to


respect the wildness of the environment while accom-
modating a grand piano; has to respect the continuity
of the history of the place while being innovative.”2
Conceptual sketch for Generator;
colored pencil, graphite and ink on
reprographic copy sheet; 21.6 x 30.6
cm; DR1995:0280:124

Yet the human roles did not provide a great enough Like many of Price’s projects, Generator was never Molly Wright Steenson
element of surprise, Price decided, and for that reason, built. After nearly three years of design, the project
he approached programmer-architects John and Julia was stymied by financial turmoil and a hostile takeover Steenson is currently in the
Frazer. “The whole intention of the project is to create attempt within the family-run Gilman Paper Company. PhD program at Princeton
University School of Archi-
an architecture sufficiently responsive to the making of Moreover, while the project was designed to benefit
tecture and is the author of
a change of mind constructively pleasurable,” he wrote employees of the company, the workforce did not the Weblog Girlwonder.com.
in a letter that accompanied Generator’s drawings.3 support the project because of Generator’s mainte-
The Frazers replied, “If you kick a system, the very nance requirements. Gilman was unable to clear the Images from Cedric Price
least that you would expect it to do is kick you back.”4 hurdle and had to abandon the project. John Frazer fonds, Collection Centre
They proposed four programs that would use input continued to hope that the project would be revived, Canadien d’Architecture/
from sensors attached to Generator’s components: suggesting a new start in 1989, in 1995, and shortly Canadian Centre for
Architecture, Montréal.
the first three provided a “perpetual architect” drawing before Price’s death in 2003.
program that held the data and rules for Generator’s 1. Related by Barbara Jakobson
design; an inventory program that offered feedback on Technologically speaking, Generator was notably pre- (“Polariser”), interview by author,
New York, November 29, 2006.
utilization; an interface for “interactive interrogation” scient. It represents the nexus of architecture and nascent 2. Paola Antonelli, “Interview with
that let users model and prototype Generator’s layout ubiquitous or pervasive computing. The technical ideas Pierre Apraxine,” in The Changing
of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Archi-
before committing the design.5 behind Price and the Frazers’ collaboration on Generator tectural Drawings from the Howard
are only now being realized. Yet all of the groundwork Gilman Collection, ed. Terence Riley
(New York: Museum of Modern Art,
The powerful and curious boredom program served to was in place for Generator—its flexible program and its 2002), 150.
provoke Generator’s users. “In the event of the site not elements—before the sensors and programs were ever 3. John Frazer, Letter to Cedric Price
(January 11, 1979). Generator
being re-organized or changed for some time the com- discussed. The programs were useful for the ways they
document folio DR1995:0280:65
puter starts generating unsolicited plans and improve- could unleash unexpected interactions, but without the 5/5, Cedric Price Archives
ments,” the Frazers wrote.6 These plans would then be investigations into the connection of the social and the (Montreal: Canadian Centre for
Architecture).
handed off to Factor, the mobile crane operator, who site and the underlying concepts, the idea would not 4. Ibid.
would move the cubes and other elements of Generator. have endured—an important precept for designers and 5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
“In a sense the building can be described as being liter- architects working at the intersection of pervasive com- 7. Ibid.
ally ‘intelligent’,” wrote John Frazer—Generator “should puting and design. Moreover, it was not technological 8. Cedric Price, “PTb: Life-
Conditioning,” Architectural
have a mind of its own.”7 It would not only challenge its fetishism that drove Generator and its interactivity. In Design 36 (1966): 32; Antonelli,
users, facilitators, architect and programmer—it would his office, Price avoided personal technology: the fax “Interview” 2002.
challenge itself. didn’t have paper; the phone was only answered during 9. Jakobson, interview, 2006.

strict hours, he preferred using the postal service above


Cedric Price sought to create a reconfigurable, flexible other communication methods. In Generator, computers
architecture of boredom and laziness that would bring provided surprises and unexpected interactions outside
pleasure to its users. This was a matter of creating the of what traditional architectural practice would create
proper conditions for dynamics to arise, rather than because of the complexity they could handle.
explicitly codifying them in the architecture. The condi-
tions of such delight, however, were not always sweet. Price’s own words show the shift that Generator
They were dark, twisted and often strange. In the late represented: “The most painless language of easy
80s, Price said, “Designing for delight and pleasure approximation for the willfully lazy that I’ve yet dis-
should very seldom be seen to happen, and must covered,” he said to Polariser in an early conversation
encompass—indeed nurture—doubt, danger, mystery bout the project.9 By taking the playful so seriously, or
and magic…Distortion of time, space and substance the serious so playfully, by distorting the solid and the
is as necessary a design tool for pleasure as it is for fixed, Generator shifted the roles of designers, actors,
religious architecture.”8 He might as well have been and users, calling into question who and what was
speaking about his own design process, the fleeting responsible for interactions—and challenging the very
nature of his hundreds of sketches, impossible to pin
down to one moment or one thing.
performance of architecture. C
15
EPIcenter
An Account of the EPIcenter
a Community-Based Instigator
Located in Green River, in the
Desert of Southeast Utah

The Epicenter (Economic Progress Instigation Center) ity to work unapologetically for the socio-economic
is a community-based housing and business resource elite (the most prevalent opportunity offered by the
center, instigating economic progress and creating profession). We are crafting an alternative model of
decent shelter in the town of Green River in the desert practice, one that accommodates our fervent desire
of southeast Utah. It is a part of a larger umbrella non- to collaborate, to provide “shelter for the soul,” and to
profit organization, which serves the town with a myriad emphasize place and circumstance. Our insistence
of unduplicated social services, including affordable for these ideals has led us to a radical mission, to be
rental housing, a Boys & Girls Club, a soup kitchen, and taken on by “citizen architects” (and citizen designers,
a thrift store (the only place to buy shoes in town). more broadly).

The Epicenter crew is a studio-of-sorts currently made The Epicenter was formed by recent architecture
up of graduates of architecture, graphic design, indus- graduates who studied at Auburn University and par-
trial design, theology, Spanish language, and high ticipated in the Rural Studio. That program influenced
school. Expertise is valued in any allied design field, our path, directing us away from traditional internships
or from anyone simply willing to sweat and wanting to we worried might result in disillusionment and instead
build something with their hands. towards positions to serve. The lack of traditional jobs
in the current economy, coupled with the availability of
In this rural town, the Epicenter has an opportu- socially-minded positions available through organiza-
nity to engage, collaborate with, and learn from a tions like AmeriCorps and Project M, brought us to
community that the design professions have chosen Green River, Utah, or what we like to call the “Epicenter
not to serve. Current projects include renovating a of the Revolution”.
104-year-old building, developing affordable housing
through Habitat for Humanity and USDA, organizing a We have learned to create a framework that is com-
music, art, and film festival, acting as a liaison for the pletely adaptable. We talk and write about what we are
design and construction of a new community center doing, evaluating ourselves, our abilities, and the com-
(designed by Marlon Blackwell Architects), provoking munity in the process. Based on that critical assess-
the idea of a river walk as an amenity for the town, ment, we adapt. At first, our inclination was to come
applying for grants, involving the community in the up with and execute concise, easy to digest, simple
construction of a skate park, collaborating to build ideas. But through our experience, we have realized
volunteer housing, and partnering with the University that 80 percent of our time and effort is preparation,
of Utah’s College of Architecture + Planning to bring phone calls, community meetings, estimates, budgets,
expertise and enthusiasm for the town. emails, submissions, organizing, filing, presenting—
only after all this do we get to the part the community
We see ourselves as part of a change led by students actually sees: the product, the “architecture.” Our
crit69 spring 2010

and recent graduates who want more than the abil- biggest lesson to date is that it takes a significant
amount of initial work to create something tangible; None of us ever met Samuel Mockbee, but his provoca- Jack Forinash, Maria
we do not presume to come in as “outside experts,” tive disturbance of both the academy and the profession Sykes, Hayley Crooks,
as that would be the wrong approach. We collaborate put into place ideals that have outlasted his physical Justin Queen, Gabriel
Woytek, Wes Funes, Josh
from within the community by capitalizing on existing presence. He said: “Every piece of architecture should
HilliarD, Rand Pinson,
systems, infrastructure, and the expertise of locals. express some moral. If it has moral merit, it deserves Matt Mueller, Aimee
the title of ‘architecture.’ For me, professional challenge, O’Carroll, Charlotte
The town of Green River is a rural community of just 971 whether I am an architect the rural American South of the Graves, Serah Mead,
residents at the junction of the Green River, Interstate American West, is how to avoid becoming so stunned Brett Randall, Christian
70, and the railroad. We are often asked, “Why Green by the power of modern technology and economic afflu- Ayala, Steven Sykes,
River?” At first, we didn’t know (and we still aren’t sure). J. Taylor Massey, and
ence that I lose focus on the fact that people and place
AmeriCorps NCCC teams
But we know the fact that question is even asked is matter… Everyone’s too busy trying to make a living. We (Green 3, Silver 1, Blue 3)
a significant portion of the answer. If it was easy and have to be more than a house pet to the rich; we need
simple, then it would already exist. We do know some to get out of that role.”1 What Mockbee described can The authors collectively
factors that answer why. The transparency that exists only happen by valuing the specificity of a place and the comprise the EPICenter
—the ability to understand who the decision-makers experiences of those who have lived there. We are young
are—is requisite for our ability to create the Epicenter. and able, but we are often reminded of our limits. We see Images courtesy of
the authors.
The town is manageably small; it gives us the chance those limitations as opportunities to include others who
to wrap our heads around the dynamics of decisions can help us achieve our goals. As citizens, we must use 1. Andrea Oppenheimer Dean,
made by residents. Even still, because of the context, our privileges and our talents to serve the public good. “The Hero of Hale County:
Sam Mockbee,” Architectural
the town is different and unique enough that when we We have not learned anything we should be hesitant to Record, 2001.
seek out prototypes and examples from other similar provide to others. The elitist status-quo of the profession,
places, they are hard to replicate here. selling knowledge products without context, has led to
the commodification of architecture and the creation of
Our satisfaction comes from the ability to create social a built environment that is too often uninspired and irrel-
change at an individual scale along with the opportunity evant. It has also created a job sector too easily affected
for creative expression rather than monetary compensa- by the pendulum of the economy.
tion. In school, we learned techniques of design/build
through the Rural Studio and DESIGNhabitat, and we felt We are entrenched within the community. From this place,
the impact you can have in working within a community. a microcosm of so many others, we strive to maximize
The Rural Studio has been in Hale County for nearly 20 our role as architects and citizens. We value the potent
years; current students benefit greatly from an already- outcome of collaboration over the egotistical assign-
established and proven program that the community ment of credit, community participation over subversive
trusts. That trust was earned over time. We have been in upheaval, and local solutions over top-down decrees. To
Green River for a year and a half and sometimes forget this Revolution we hereby pledge allegiance. C
that we have not yet earned that same level of trust.
FEATURES features

SAMBO:
Architecture’s
Architect

James Michael Tate Architecture Without Architects—Rudofsky’s project at times, an ideological descent of Rudofsky’s project.
had its place in the late-1960s; however, its influence But have we wandered too far outside of our own
Tate has a BS in Architecture lingers in a negative way. In the wake of modernism, disciplinary boundaries? Are we caught up in extra-
from Texas A&M and an
architects were largely forced, willingly or not, to choose disciplinary obsessions that overshadow architecture’s
MArch from Yale School of
Architecture. He is currently between serving a constituency (social considerations) real affective potential? This is not a call for autonomy
an independent designer and appealing to an audience (aesthetic ones). The (an anachronistic response), but rather for leveraging
based in New Haven. resulting internal disciplinary divisions undermine our the basic tools of architecture: form, organization, and
specific expertise and the tangible qualities of our work, material. Our expertise defines possibilities, even as it
Image, Mason Bend making them both increasingly illegible to our clients establishes limits.
community center, courtesy and largely unacknowledged even to ourselves.
of Tony Vanky via Flickr.
I met Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee ten years ago in 2001;
Architects Without Architecture—the phrase suggests I was part of the first year-long Rural Studio Outreach
a reconsideration of architectural production. In the program, which invited non-Auburn University students
United States over the past few decades, the number to work on a design/build project. Sambo passed away
of architecture graduates seems inversely propor- that December, but the year I spent working with him,
tional to the number of commissions available in in constant dialogue, continues to influence the way I
professional practice. We produce and prepare more think and make architecture. “Citizen Architect”, a film
students to enter a world that is increasingly without about Sambo and the radical educational program he
architecture. Schools, hospitals, fire stations, court- established in western Alabama, was recently released
houses, churches, banks; only 50 years ago these and takes a first step toward defining a legacy. The film
typologies were a nexus for innovation, but now clearly demonstrates he was ahead of the pack on
they are largely lost to the discipline, except through issues of social justice and the environment and gives
specialized practices and collaborations dominated a sense of the larger-than-life personality that provided
by external consultants. The recent focus on natural almost limitless inspiration to students.
resources has overshadowed the long and slow deple-
tion of architectural ones. But what about the architecture? Sambo was dogmatic
when it came to making, and his projects were bold,
Part of the conversation involves the all-too-popular instrumental and intentional. Sambo demanded that
word “inter-disciplinary.” An attempt to escape the each project challenge our sensibilities and perception
crit69 spring 2010

hermetic discourse of the past and define relevance in of space, looking beyond immediate problems and given
the present has made this word popular, even populist conditions to create notable exceptions within the impov-
erished and segregated Deep South. Sambo’s relation- Sambo did not have allegiances to either the Grays or
ship to the discipline has been overlooked. What about his the Whites; yet there are tones of both in the work. But
interest in John Hejduk, Aldo Rossi, and Charles Moore? neither group would include him as an ally because,
What about his desire to create architecture deeply rooted like Hejduk and Raimund Abraham, Sambo was a
in place but in direct defiance of the word vernacular? renegade. We must remember these things when
What about the dialogue between form and material? defining the legacy of an architect who always put
What about painting as a different form of textuality? What architecture first. The deep knowledge of (and obses-
about stacks, piles, and mounds? What about romanti- sion with) architecture separates Samuel Mockbee
cism and grit? What about collage and juxtaposition? from many others who have been associated with him
What about drawings, models, and mockups in opposi- based on a social or environmental agenda. These
tion to the purely digital? What about his desire for the day are the qualities that make him an architect with and
when architects could talk about architecture because within architecture rather than an architect without it;
topics like sustainability were simply taken as givens? we must take notice of the difference.

23
Project
Management
Rhetoric
Immediately following the French Revolution, Jean- Character, imitation, and genius were privileged ele-
Nicolas-Louis Durand was appointed to a position at ments in the old pedagogy, and Durand was forced
the Ecole Polytechnique and charged with teaching to reconsider each. Genius posed the most significant
architecture to the engineers who would rebuild the problem, being both opposed to rule and, by definition,
nation-state. It was a difficult mandate, given that archi- unteachable. The solution to the “genius problem” was
tecture through 1789 had focused primarily on taste and a pedagogy that turned architecture into a system of
beauty, marking it as a monument to the ancien regime decomposed elements. Students were first given these
and an anathema to the Revolutionary values of reason elements, then the composite parts, then finally the
and utility. Durand had been persuasive in arguing that building types in a continuous associative chain where,
architecture belonged in an engineering school, and in “one idea always prepares the mind for that which fol-
doing so secured its place in the new social system, lows, and the latter always recalls that which precedes
but instead of simply stashing architecture in the trunk it.”1 They were then asked to conceive of their projects
of engineering, allowing it to slip past the revolutionary in the reverse order, from the whole down to the details.
checkpoints, Durand chose to disguise it in the open, Genius was no match for system:
dressing architecture in the engineer’s garb.
We do not believe that in the study of architecture
But in the highly analytical context of the Ecole it is possible to follow any other sequence – still
Polytechnique, a mere costume would not be enough; less to dispense with one altogether, as do many
architecture had to work like engineering. Durand sought architects, who say that rules and methods are
to establish the credibility of architects as rational practi- the shackles of genius. Far from sharing any such
tioners who were committed to fulfilling the goals of the opinion, we consider that they ease its emergence
revolution. His three-part strategy aligns with the primary and ensure its progress; moreover, reason may
means of rhetorical persuasion identified by Aristotle: dispense with genius, but genius can only go
ethos (based on the character of the speaker),logos astray unless led and illuminated by reason.2
(based on the argument of the speaker), and pathos
(based on the emotional appeal of the speaker). Aristotle Durand’s “rules and methods” made genius a prisoner
also defined two techniques, organization and style, of reason, and in the process relieved his students
which would become central to Durand’s architectural from being “detained at every step by the need to
rhetoric, a new method based around the composition criticize.”3 By re-organizing genius and forcing it to be
of elements over a rational and ordered grid. “led and illuminated” by reason, Durand was turning it
into an asset rather than a liability. He was effectively
Architecture exists not only as physical artifacts, but also managing the architect by simultaneously making the
through its history, theory, and pedagogy; to disguise the architect a manager of architectural elements
discipline, then, requires changing its arguments of the
past (history), present (theory), and future (pedagogy). The strategic significance of this conversion can be
Durand rewrote history in the revolutionary terms of the found in a pioneering 1954 text by Peter Drucker:
present as lesson book for the architects of the future, yet The Practice of Management. Although he concedes
crit69 spring 2010

despite his discursive reform, the buildings designed by management to be, like architecture, an inexact sci-
his students outwardly resembled those that had been ence, Drucker proceeds by asserting, reminiscent
constructed before the Revolution. Durand prevented the of Durand, that “its elements and requirements can
re-facing of buildings by re-facing architecture itself. be analyzed, can be organized systematically,” and
consequently, “can be learned by anyone with normal the Latin dispositio, the organization of arguments Troy Conrad
human endowment.”4 Drucker takes issue with the in Classical rhetoric, and the etymological source for Therrien
“intuitive” manager who—like the “genius” architect— Durand’s disposition, the “architect’s sole concern”.
Therrien is currently in
was inclined to disregard “proven” rules and methods. The etymology of the apparatus helps in understand- the Histories and Theo-
Just as Drucker’s “efficient” manager was trained ing Durand’s motivations, which are also embedded ries MA program at the
to maximize the productivity of available resources, in the method itself. Architectural Association
Durand’s “uncritical” architect was trained to make in London. He received his
“disposition” his “sole concern”.5 In making the archi- Durand’s method required first making a freehand cro- MArch from Columbia.
tect a manager, Durand turned architecture into what quis stressing composition that although considered
Images courtesy of
Jean-Francois Lyotard would later call “a game of “freehand” (given that a ruled edge was not used) was the author.
perfect information.”6 In such a game, knowledge is by no means free. Every drawing done by a student
“complete” (albeit given by Durand himself), and as a of Durand was on grid paper, functioning, in effect, as 1. Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand,
Précis of the lectures on
result genius, if it still manifests itself, does so only by
an insurance policy taken out against the uncertain architecture, trans. David
solving problems through composition. imagination of the architect, ensuring regular, sym- Britt (Los Angeles, CA : Getty
metric, simple—and thus economic—projects. It is no Research Institute, 2000), 79.
2. Ibid., 132.
By foregrounding composition (and providing the ele- coincidence that probability calculus was being devel- 3. Ibid., 73.
ments), Durand allowed his students to make endless oped simultaneously by Durand’s colleagues and 4. Peter Drucker, The Practice of
Management (New York: Collins,
numbers of “new moves” but never any “new rules”. becoming the basis of a new type of governance and 2006), 9.
Composition provided freedom, particularly when an “insurance society” led by Pierre-Simon Laplace, 5. Durand, 132.
6. Jean-Francois Lyotard, The
viewed in contrast with the pedagogy of imitation that the interior minister and an external examiner of the Postmodern Condition (University
existed before the Revolution, but it was precisely Polytechnique to whom Durand was responsible. of Minnesota Press: Minnesota,
1978), 52.
through freedom that this new form of compositional 7. Michel Foucault, Security,
genius could become a productive force within the The grid insured a certain amount of rigor (more Territory, Population: Lectures
system, as opposed to its traditional role as the prime importantly, it offered the appearance of it) to Durand’s at the Collège de France, 1977-
1978; Michel Senellart, ed.;
threat that could lead to its undoing. Durand placed method while allowing for the freedom necessary to Graham Burchell, trans. (London:
freedom as a yoke upon the figure of the architect. explore and potentially innovate. A building drawn on Palgrave MacMillan, 2007), 105.
8. Armand Mattelart, The
grid paper immediately looked more economical, more Invention of Communication
Foucault contrasts “normation”, control from continu- fit, and Durand’s method required stripping drawings (Minnesota: University of
Minnesota Press, 1996), 229.
ous repression and discipline of the individual (saying of detail; even column capitals were replaced with 9. Aristotle, Rhetoric (Bk. III, Ch.
“no”) with “normativity”, a form of control that gets simplified geometric symbols to be filled in later for 1), in The Basic Works of Aristotle;
Richard McKeon, ed.; W. Rhys
its power precisely from finding new ways of saying construction documents. This ostensible objectiv- Roberts, trans. (New York: Modern
“yes”. Increasing societal freedom in France after the ity served a rhetorical function, and represented the Library, 2001), 1329.
Revolution provided a means for assessing the gen- deployment of the second device, style. Style was,
eral public, through broad observations that were then according to Aristotle, “essentially, a matter of the right
recorded in normal statistical distributions—“elements management of the voice,” that is, the regulation of
of reality”—that could then be manipulated remotely the instrument of communication. The grid similarly
by a central government. The result was unprecedent- regulated, or, made regular, the architectural means
ed control over the development of a population that of communication, the drawing.
was “unaware” of what was “being done to it.”7 Such
was the power Durand, with his own “invisible hand”, Durand’s pedagogy instrumentalized normativity toward
exercised over the hand of the architect. the goal of “expediency”, making his rhetoric decidedly
of the political sort, free from ethics and values. His grid
Durand’s method allowed for the unpredictability of paper served to colonize the future by configuring the
his students compositions to become productive, cor- architect as manager in strict opposition to the architect
ralled by the methodological and technical devices he as idealist. Managing by type and grid, Durand did
enforced. Instead of cultivating the individual, Durand not simply provide ideological cover for an emergent
normalized the field with a distanced managerial gaze. capitalist structure, he transferred it whole stock into the
This distinct form of governance, a form of normativity very substance of architecture. Through his method,
most clearly reflected in the building types he enu- Durand effectively put ideology to rest and was in no
merated, was an architectural complement to what way silent; as Aristotle says of rhetoric, “Nobody uses
Foucault termed “governmentality”. In this form, the fine language when teaching geometry.” C
9

normal functions as an “apparatus”, a word which,


in the original French dispositif, traces its roots to
MAN
ROB
Pike Street Loop:
The Science and
Fiction of Digital
Fabrication

We are two decades into the age of digitally-designed Storefront, Pike Loop is the first 1:1 architectural-
architecture, yet few seem certain of how the enor- scale project to be built on site by an industrial robot
mous processing power of computers will affect the in the US.
look and feel of real buildings and cities. The results
of complex data scripting remain largely confined to Pike Loop is not, on its own, a significant work of archi-
computer screens, scale models, hidden infrastruc- tecture, or even necessarily a work of architecture at all.
tures, and elite buildings; most ordinary buildings But it is the latest step in a significant body of ongoing
are conceived merely as cost-efficient boxes. One research in digital architectural fabrication at ETH, fol-
approach to closing the gap between the computer lowing the completion of a Swiss winery façade in 2007,
screen and construction site is the development of an installation at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale,
full-scale digital fabrication—or, in the words of the and various studio projects. R-O-B’s chief virtue is its
Zurich-based partners Fabio Gramazio and Matthias capability to place bricks with a precision that exceeds
Kohler, “digital materiality.” that of a human mason, realizing hitherto impossible
surface topologies. While most brick facades today are
The story, in the fall of 2009, that an orange robotic prefabricated in aggregate panel sections, the robot
arm was building a wavy brick structure on a New York handles each brick as an individual pixel to be loaded
City street gave rise to futuristic fantasies and urgent into a customized surface fabric.
questions. Would human construction workers, in the
manner of auto workers, begin losing jobs to robots? Just how perfect is the R-O-B’s work? When the robot
Was the robot designing the structure as it went along, leaves the protected environment of the shop, exter-
or just following a set of received instructions? Was nal conditions become looming contingencies. For
the project to be understood as performance art, sci- example, the weather must be fair enough for the glue
entific demonstration, or a new kind of architecture? (which is less permanent and more easily machine-fed
than mortar) to stick to the bricks. The trailer must be
As passersby and blog readers discovered, the positioned and repositioned along the length of the site.
72-foot-long Pike Loop was a temporary installation The human attendants must occasionally compensate
whose purpose was to exhibit its own construction. for discrepancies due to minute geometric imperfec-
Following three years of research at the Swiss Federal tions in the air-dried bricks. And the uneven pavement
Institute of Technology (ETH), the architects were of the city street required the hand-placement of wood
commissioned by the not-for-profit gallery Storefront shims at the start of the installation.
for Art and Architecture to set their industrial robot to
work in the median of a busy street in Chinatown. The Even when site conditions are perfect, R-O-B is no
robot, called R-O-B, executed the design for a curv- master mason. It is not capable of creating the rippling
ing, screen-like structure comprised of roughly 7,000 solid brick elevations of Eladio Dieste’s churches. While
bricks over the course of four weeks, working in full complex curves can, of course, be molded, cast, or
crit69 spring 2010

view of anyone who cared to observe. Two human laser-cut in metal or plastic, Gramazio & Kohler are
attendants monitored the robot’s work and kept its specifically interested in additive fabrication processes.
brick and glue queues well supplied. According to And they are not the only ones: At the Harvard Graduate
School of Design, Ingeborg Rocker of Rocker-Lange ly at Schouwburgplein, a public plaza in Rotterdam Gideon Fink Shapiro
Architects led a Spring 2009 studio geared toward designed by West8, four giant red cranes loom above
programming a robot to build an undulating double- the flat, open expanse. These modified industrial robots Shapiro is currently in the
PhD program at the Univer-
wall structure. Instead of masonry bricks, the students are coin-operable, striking a variety of postures to appear
sity of Pennsylvania.
used wood blocks. menacing, playful, or anything in between.
Images courtesy Gramazio
When R-O-B is put to work in public, it creates a kind Blurring the boundary between robotic means and & Kohler, ETH Zurich.
of in-situ theater. The freight container becomes a ends, and between living and computerized organ-
1. Aaron Betsky, “A Virtual Reality:
proscenium stage, illuminated at night like a glowing isms, Francois Roche and his Paris-based studio The Legacy of Digital Architecture”
kiosk in which the robot does a stiff dance. However R&Sie(n) have proposed Swarm Town—a complex (Artforum International v. 46 no. 1,
Sept 2007), 440.
fleeting, the construction of Pike Loop was a specta- rolling topography shaped by a team of industrial
2. “Pike Loop: A Robot-Built Instal-
cle. Intrigued passersby snapped photos, while a local robots. Better known is their 2006 Olzweg proposal lation in NYC.” Current Exhibitions.
general-interest blog registered curiosity: “Watching for a competition held by the FRAC contemporary Storefront for Art and Architecture,
30 September 2009.
the robot in action is especially entertaining—my art institute. Here, an industrial automaton not unlike 3. Marcus Fairs, “On the Bri(n)ck at
friend took the video with her iPhone—as it zooms R-O-B slides along a track, creating a highly textured Graduate School of Design, Harvard
University” (Dezeen Design Maga-
back and forth with a great swooshing noise.”4 wall by placing thousands of green-glass rods at dif- zine, 11 May, 2009).
ferent depths and heights.7 4. “Pike loop: a robot-built instal-
lation in nyc, really!” (Cherrypatter
Architectural construction typically becomes a specta- nyc, 23 October, 2009).
cle at its symbolic milestones, such as groundbreaking Like other “hi-tech” creative projects, Pike Loop wraps 5. Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture
and inauguration—and more recently, demolition. But its artistic intention in a cocoon of supposedly neutral and Utopia: Design and Capitalist
Development. Trans. Barbara Luigia
modern architecture is not only about fixed objects; it and rational technology. But Gramazio & Kohler reject LaPenta (New York: The MIT Press,
functions as media and event, sometimes even during the engineer’s cult of efficiency, and embrace the art- 1979), 76.
6. Piero Frassinelli, “Twelve
construction. As the Eiffel Tower rose visibly higher ist’s radical search for new forms, new methods, and Cautionary Tales for Christmas.”
week by week, it triumphantly manifested the new new visions of society. No longer content to arrange (Architectural Design, December,
1971), 740.
technology that made it possible. At Pike Loop, con- symmetries comprehensible to the naked eye and 7. Giovanni Corbellini, Bioreboot:
tinuous video documentation allowed the process to sedentary body, architects may in this way become The Architecture of R&Sie(n) (New
York: Princeton Architectural, 2010).
be condensed into a five-minute clip, streamed on the designers of codes and processes. C
Internet and projected in Storefront’s gallery.

R-O-B is about more than simple bricklaying; it draws


on latent fantasies of self-building buildings. These
fantasies, both liberating and threatening, are increas-
ingly believable as computers grow more sentient and
fabrication techniques more automated. Extrapolating
from the work of the Futurists and other avant-gardes,
Manfredo Tafuri argued that technology ultimately seeks
to merge with humanity, allowing for a total “mechaniza-
tion of the universe” through artificially-intelligent, hybrid
machine-organisms.5 But if intelligent robot-servants
could be put to work constructing utopia, the old dream
goes, couldn’t they also take power?

One vision of such a dystopian future is Superstudio’s


“Continuous production conveyer belt city” of 1971.
In the project the city is a gigantic machine that trawls
across the landscape, “devouring shreds of useless
nature and unformed minerals at its front end and emit-
ting sections of completely formed city, ready for use,
from its back end.”6 Over a decade later, Richard Rogers’
Lloyds of London building put a positive spin on the
fantasy of auto-construction through machine-inspired
detailing that implied ongoing fabrication. More recent-
Scoring
Myrtle
Avenue

Learning from the existing landscape is a way of being We wanted to look at Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn, Thumb
revolutionary for an architect. Not the obvious way, which where changes were happening at a pace that was
is to tear down Paris and begin again, but another more only going to accelerate. We set out to record what Thumb is a partnership
tolerant way; that is, to question how we look at things. was happening, hoping to register this changing between Luke Bulman and
Jessica Young. Bulman
—Robert Venturi, Denise Scott-Brown and Steve streetscape. Cezanne once said, “Things are dis-
and Young received their
Izenour1 appearing. You have to hurry up if you want to see MArch’s from Rice Univer-
anything.” We could not agree more. sity School of Architecture.
The project of representing the city is ongoing. We
1. Learning from Las Vegas
were trained as architects, but now we practice as Developing the drawing was a process of extracting
(Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993)
graphic designers. And while our involvement with layers of information from observational notes and
architecture has changed, we still see and think redrawing them with a special eye towards their fre-
of the urban landscape as a spatial and temporal quency and the densities that build up around certain
construction. We are constantly thinking of ways to points on the street. The score registers an interval of
communicate this complexity and developed this activity that corresponds to the amount of time spent
“urban score.” on observation. The score is like a snapshot that has
been pulled apart and abstracted.
Craig Chapple

Chapple is currently in the


MArch program at Yale
School of Architecture.
crit69 spring 2010
ALISON MOFFETT

Moffett received a BA from the


University of Tennessee and
an MFA from the Slade School
of Fine Arts in London, where
she currently works.
crit69 spring 2010
By Jiminez Lai Lai teaches at University of Illinois at Chicago and is the principal
of Bureau Spectacular. He received his MArch from the University of Toronto.
Overcoming
the Internal
Struggle
Frank Lloyd Wright wrote about architecture at a time
when this country was experiencing economic condi-
tions similar to the present, in the period after the stock
market crash of 1929, during the Great Depression
and before the onset of WWII. Wright was an architect
through apprenticeship rather than formal training. A
self-proclaimed “gatekeeper of cultural tradition,” he
simultaneously taught, led, and challenged the institu-
tion of architecture through his practices and beliefs. In
a December 1930 issue of American Architect Wright
had much to say about the profession. He wrote: “To
be short, the Architect being more important than ever,
it is imperative today that he seriously qualify for his
job, ‘profession,’ or ‘profession’ be damned.”

The power of this statement was never felt as readily as


it might be felt right now, in light of the challenges and
realities facing the profession today. The profession
very well may be damned. I have to wonder whether
the architectural profession as a whole or the title of
“architect” itself has much, if any, weight with regard
to building and design in the current economy. I also
have to wonder if there is not a connection between
the environmental/green building and sustainability
movement, eco-terrorism, and the recent economic
crises. The collapse of the real estate, mortgage,
and banking sectors sent shockwaves through the
economy that are still being felt worldwide.

The internal struggle within the profession over the dis-


connect between education, history, culture, tradition
and modern practice with regard to what the practice
even consists of in today’s economy (or in this country
for that matter) as well as the current trends in green
building and sustainability, (neither of which arose
from within the profession) have left many dispirited,
uninspired, and just plain confused. Wright may have
coined the phrase “organic architecture,” but some-
how his vision has been taken out of context, and “We need the ‘Engineering Architect.’ Profession
seems to have become more of an environmental or no Profession; an Architect not only familiar
override of all things man-made, complete with a with the shop work and factory conditions in
green stamp like a fascist symbol under the guise America but an architect who can sense the
of green building and sustainability. human benefits actually to be derived from
mechanized production that might make our
living in a machine age less destructive to indi-
In the May 1930 Architectural Forum, Wright wrote: viduality, not more and more destructive”.
Heather L. Hailey

It is no exaggeration to say that the expression Hailey has a BS in Geography


of the machine age has so far been repression. The Machine Age gave way to the Information Age, from the University of North
How about the wasted timber resources, lost and mechanical engineering may have given way to Carolina at Charlotte. She is
trees of a new continent to merely rot or burn civil, electrical, and other branches of engineering. the 2009-2010 AIAS Chapter
as ‘millwork?’ How about the butchery by The need for an engineering architect is still the President at Central Piedmont
Community College.
machinery of every traditional form ever bor- same if not greater now because of the remnants
rowed and worn to win the contempt of the of the industrial past that still exist. The term must
civilized world, especially of the Beaux-Arts, be reshaped and rethought to make room for a
that was supposedly its advocate? How about new vision, a new economic purpose, and a more
neglect and insult by way of traditions to great holistic, and integrated approach to intellectualizing
new materials, and the separation in conse- the built environment once again. Americans in par-
quence of engineering and architecture, and ticular are targets when it comes to the sprawling
the great change in human thought the ideal of landscape dominated by the aesthetic and intel-
democracy represents without any interpreta- lectual sensibilities of low cost warehouse-styled
tion whatsoever in architecture?” designs and fast-food chains that are central to
the issue in the context of Post-Industrial Design.
The built environment was once the domain of the
“Going green” almost seems like a euphemism architect within the profession (or without as in
for a green economy, or political and economic Wright’s example), yet many have encroached on
change meant to destabilize America’s capitalist the architects’ territory while ignoring the history of
system, which subsequently many blame for the the profession and the principles of design primar-
ecological and environmental problems across the ily for the purposes of economic gain. Architects
globe. It also feels like an attempt by non-architects and aspiring architects must maintain faith in the
to dictate and maintain the status quo without the relevance of their training and expertise, since it
architectural profession while environmentalists, seems obvious that in many places the architect
developers, product designers, and others gain has never been needed more, within the profes-
greater control over the architects’ domain.Wright sion or without.
and his principles of organic architecture are often
cited as a means of achieving greater sustainability
within this movement. In the United States today, the engineering architect
that Wright imagined would be able to respect and
recognize the origins of our industrial past. They
Additionally, Wright’s commentary on the engineer would also be able to re-imagine and re-organize
and architect may be more relevant now than it was the old industrial landscape into a new and thriving
when he wrote it considering the current economic vision for the future, rather than allow the remnants
conditions in this country, and the condition of of our industrial past to continue to further erode and
much of the built environment in the shadow of the degrade the profession and the built environment. C

43
industrial, and post-modern years:
URL + Architect = Architecture
How changes occur and the
orders in which they emerge are paced by both
time and events. In biological terms the phenomena was first
explained by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace who in 1858
jointly unveiled their theories On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and
on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection. Examining
the changing nature of life is a long-term process; the capacity to interrogate how, when, and
why variations and mutations exist is in part inherent in the opportunities that rise and the potential
for spontaneity or alliances to occur. Essentially, to visualize why things become, as Charles Darwin
did in 1837 when he sketched the first evolution tree, one has to look for details, similarities, connections
and mutations. Such a method is intricate yet extremely informative as scientists seek to clarify how nothing is
singular or static and evolution is a perpetual state of life.

In this scenario, what is interesting for architects is that in studying gametes and genomes, scientists are unveiling how
survival is a matter of interconnectivity. It transcends species, location, and composition. Thus, the reproduction of architecture,
like survival, is profoundly influenced by the built world that transcends physical limits and geodetic boundaries. Indisputably
(and unless we re-start the history of life), the built world is inclusive of its past, present and emerging happenings.

As information adjusts, advances, and shifts architecture will expand and further distance its production from governance. In fact,
looking around our built environment it is striking how strong initiatives across the global landscape exist and it is not because of multi-
lateral corporations or global associations, or in lieu of site-less sites like URL’s; instead it is due to how executors think and disseminate
ideas. So, the characteristics of the classical roman arch first developed during 400 BC are not quite visible from an airplane ride over
the Mississippi River, yet in tracking the design processes of the St Louis Gateway, evidence of its intellectual ingenuity emerge.

The trajectory revels that, while Eero Saarinen is the architect of the project, it is the thread of creative thinkers, professional entities,
and industries that provide extensive design ingenuity. They are experts and risk takers that forward architecture. Indeed, some of
our most and least successful buildings do not lie in the virtues of law bearing domains; instead, collaborative participations conjure
the outcome. As such, in threading processes, one can stitch together that ancient Romans, Hannskarl Bandel [engineer], Richard
Bowser [ferry wheel/elevator designer], National Park Service [clients], Fire Department [structural adjusters], Pittsburgh-Des
Moines Steel Company, MacDonald Construction Company of St. Louis and countless unrecognized individuals, provided their
foresight and extended beyond the architect to produce the architecture of the St. Louis Arch.

Such transference of ideas rises as information permeates and replicates in similar ways to a living organism, where meta-
bolic [building] processes repeat and mutate in remote locations away from the original source. In the age of advance
digital information, the art and practice of building is distinct in that executors, autodidactics, carpenters, community
groups, and others built regardless of law-abiding architects. This to-from activity, informed by URL’s or feeding
information back to the network, significantly offsets established norms and gives rise to impromptu occur-
rences and entrepreneurial design processes.

The difficult question is not how to safeguard the architect but how to openly embrace all aspects
of building processes. At the rate that architecture divides, multiplies, and reproduces,
the task and expertise of architects is relegated to a law-abiding builder rather
than a creative producer. C BY Maria Del C. Vera - Vera teaches at the Southern
Illinois University Carbondale School of Architecture. She received her BArch from
NYIT and her MArch in Urban Culture from Universitat Politècnica de
Catalunya-Metropolis.
Why Architects
Hate Sustainability

Okay, you’re right. Architects don’t really hate sustain- modeling and measurements, life-cycle analyses, data Andrea Brennen
ability; no one hates sustainability. tables and excel spreadsheets.
Brennen has an MArch
from the Massachusetts
If we take the Brundtland Report’s definition of sus- The premise of sustainability carries with it a moral
Institute of Technology.
tainability—“a process or act that meets the needs imperative to “minimize footprint.” In its extreme form,
of the present without compromising the ability of this injunction leads us to question the very act of 1. Our Common Future,
future generations to meet their own needs”—then building—not building always has a smaller footprint [The Brundtland Report],
1987 (habitat.igc.org/open-
sustainability is basically a premise that is impossible than building. Thus architects, from the outset, find gates/ocf-cf.htm).
to oppose.1 You cannot hate it. Hating sustainability themselves in a compromised position. Unable to
would be like rejoicing in mass destruction…or hoping achieve the ultimate goal [“minimize footprint,” “leave
for environmental apocalypse. no trace,” etc.] they must constantly weigh various
options, trying to anticipate which undesirable option
That said, the premise of sustainability poses some will make their work have the least impact.
really tricky issues for architects, i.e. people who are in
the business of designing new buildings; whose job is Now, I know what you are thinking. The outlook does
to make things that consume tons of natural resources not have to be so bleak. Architects can simply do
and energy; who build new office towers for wealthy their best to minimize the environmental impact of
corporations, replacing open space [nature] with their buildings. The result may not be perfect, but
overly-air-conditioned cubicles. See the problem? with new technologies and different strategies, it
can be more sustainable than what we’ve got right
Let me illustrate the dilemma a little further by explain- now. Of course, you are right, and there are certainly
ing a change that has taken place with regards to architects who are working in this way (and perhaps
the architectural conception of “footprint.” Pre- an equal number who are pretending to do so, but
sustainability, a building’s footprint was simply where that is another issue altogether.
and how it interacted with the ground—the surface
or space occupied by a structure. Today, the under- It is not enough to blindly accept the premise of sustain-
standing of an architectural footprint has expanded ability and to assuage our guilt by offsetting carbon in
to incorporate the much more abstract notion of the an effort to minimize our collective footprint. We should
building’s impact and demand on the environment not be afraid to be critical of the premises of sustain-
at large—the embodied energy it consumes and ability, and our critique should not be interpreted as a
the carbon it emits. This change was initiated in part dismissal of the problems at hand. We should embrace
by ecologist William Reese’s book Our Ecological today’s tone of looming crisis as an opportunity to
Footprint: Reducing Impact on Earth, and has been reevaluate our priorities and to think really carefully
expanded by the recent media emphasis on carbon about what it is, exactly, that we are interested in sus-
counting and offsetting. Whereas the first type of foot- taining. As an architect, I am searching for a position
print can be represented by a drawing of the building that is somewhere between loving the ideas of sustain-

47
(a “plan”), the second requires a vast array of scientific ability and hating its current implementation. C
10 Steps
Architects, don’t wait for the phone to ring, act now!

To Becoming
The economic crisis has spurred a great deal of
reflection upon the viability of a profession that is

A Successful
dependent upon commissions; not only are we
financially exposed to the instability of the market
economy, we perhaps feel a deeper crisis of rel-
Unsolicited evance in only being able to react to our clients’
wishes. Despite our skill and experience in manipu-
Architect lating space and material, we architects are inca-
pable of addressing the needs of society unless we
have first been explicitly asked to do so.

Disconnect your Find an issue. Become the expert. Determine a strategy. Design. Produce a
telephone. Clients have Architects, your city Learn everything there Now that you are the proposal as a treat-
not called for months,; needs you. Find an is to know about this expert, you will know ment for the issue. Do
this route to future work issue in your street, your issue. Read all the how this issue may not limit yourself to the
has been severed by the suburb, your city or the books, speak to opin- best be tackled. The conservative constraints
financial crisis. The same world. It may be social, ion leaders, take to the answer will probably of planning or titles. Do
goes for competitions; environmental, financial streets and speak to not be a building, but what needs to be done.
do not enter them (the or even food related. those most affected. architecture will surely
odds are against you) play a part, as practi-
It is time to roll up your cally every issue has a
sleeves and grab those spatial aspect in need
commissions yourself. of treatment.
crit69 spring 2010
Unsolicited architecture offers an alternative to this Unsolicited architecture does away with this reactive, Rory Hyde
reactive, service-oriented role, and instead calls for a service-oriented role of the architect. By starting with
new, more socially-motivated approach to procuring an issue instead of a commission, architects can act Hyde is currently in the
projects. The typical architectural commission can as critical agents, reclaiming their role in shaping the PhD program at the Royal
Melbourne Institute
only proceed when the four pillars of client, site, bud- future of the city. This requires a professional shift
of Technology.
get and program are simultaneously aligned. In our toward a more entrepreneurial mindset; the tools
consumer society, the projects that succeed are more of architecture and architectural thinking are only Acknowledgements:
often than not motivated by money, as opposed to powerful if they can be unshackled from the increas- The concept of Unsolic-
social values. The Unsolicited architect does not wait ingly marginalized opportunities to react to a given ited architecture was first
for this rare eclipse, but instead occupies the territory brief. In times like these, the risk of not getting paid explored in a studio at MIT
where at least one of these pillars are absent, thereby for your efforts is perhaps one worth taking. To assist led by Ole Bouman in 2007,
the results of which were
making the project undesirable or even impossible in taking this leap, simply follow these ten steps to
published in Volume 14.
to tackle using the standard tools of the commercial becoming a successful Unsolicited architect. C
practice. Unsolicited architects tackle the big issues
facing society that are otherwise overlooked by the
market, they create briefs where none are written,
discover sites where none are owned, approach
clients where none are present, and find financing
where none is available.

Run the numbers. Produce a report. Build support. Call a Present your proposal a) Reconnect your
Engage a quantity Assemble your work town hall meeting, send to your future client. telephone. Sure this
surveyor and financial so far into a document your report to news- ThisFor social issues, first one was hard, but
experts to calculate that outlines both the papers with punchy this will ordinarily be you are now the expert
the construction and issue and your pre- quotes, do a letter drop the government or local with all the experience
life-cycle cost projec- scribed solution. Of to local residents, dem- municipality, but it is and all the answers.
tions of your proposal. course this is biased onstrate the effective- equally possible to find These services will be
Compare this to the advice, but your future ness of your proposal in a private investor if the in high demand.
amount the government client will thank you for a quick and dirty urban life-cycle financing is
spends annually to deal producing something intervention. The aim is attractive enough. With (b) Return to step 2.
with the issue. they can easily act upon. to create public support a solution to a thorny Now you have a taste for
for the urgency of your issue, public support, action and relevance to
scheme. As it is address- and a strong funding society, time to get out
ing an urgent issue, not argument, you will have and find another issue.
a commercial motive, an offer that cannot be
this should be easy. refused. It is set right
up on the tee, all they
need to do is hit it off
and take all the credit,

51
while you take home
the commission.
Call for Submissions In simple economic terms, overproduction means too much supply, too little
demand, or both. In Marx’s thinking overproduction is an inevitable byproduct
of capitalism (with the profit motive demanding a continuous expansion of both
Crit 70
supply and demand), while more recently, game theorists have demonstrated why
Overproduction
overproduction is a “dominant strategy,” albeit one with negative consequences.
(Fall 2010)
These negative consequences became lucidly clear as the economic boom turned
into a crisis. Speculation had led to overproduction of the built environment, seen now
in the empty housing found almost everywhere. When something is overproduced,
its presumed utilitarian function gets subsumed by its rhetorical function. Take, for
example, the reappropriation of surplus or discarded objects or materials, such as
with shipping containers, which have no reason to be anything but.

Overproduction typically means “too many”, but it can also mean “too much”,
describing a form of excess. Musical artists are considered to be “overproduced”
after spending too much time in the studio, where they rely on third-parties
(“producers”) and equipment like the “Auto-Tune” machine, designed to smooth
over the misplaced notes of many pop stars.

Architects have a tendency towards fetishization, manifest, for example, in the


wholehearted embrace of digital technologies. With the continuous introduction of new
modes of production, overproduction at the object scale seems almost inevitable. But
just because things are possible does not necessarily make them desirable

So, then, if the flip side of overproduction is restraint, what does restraint look like
today? One could point toward Japanese architects, with firms like recent Pritzker-prize
winners SANAA ([Kazuyo] Sejima and [Ryue] Nishizawa and Associates) embodying
a form of restraint that uses available techniques without being overly reliant on them
(or enamored by them). Indeed, Japan had its bubble burst almost two decades ago
and perhaps provides some lessons for working in a “post-” condition.

Crit 70: Overproduction seeks written essays, built projects, studio designs, and
competition entries that address issues of production, both the tendency toward
overproduction and attempts to address it. The deadline is September 1, 2010. Please
send questions to 2009-2011 Editor-in-Chief Zachary R. Heineman at crit@aias.org.
REVIEWS reviews

AIAS/Vinyl Student
Design Competition:
Bohemian Flats Boathouse

The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Prizes were awarded as follows:
and the Vinyl Institute announced the winners of the
fourth annual national student design competition. First Place ($2500)
The competition, sponsored by the Vinyl Institute and John Vierra – Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo,
administered by AIAS, challenged students to learn “Boat on Board”
about building materials, specifically vinyl products, in Vierra’s design immediately conjures up a sense
the design of a boathouse for the Bohemian Flats Park of place. The easily recognizable precedent of a
in Minneapolis, MN. Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo’s John Mississippi River Sternwheeler was a daring yet
Vierra was awarded first place and $2,500 for his ingenious design detail. The rest of the design
design, “Boat on Board”. plays off the imagery of the boat and results with
the boathouse itself becoming a floating building
that can transport people and ideas up and down
This year’s competition had the most registrations
the Mississippi River.
of the past four years at 227 students. Participants
were required to research, respond to and highlight
Second Place ($1500)
the unique aspects of designing a boathouse that not
Varia Smirnova and Oscar Rosello –
only embodied the community’s rich history and cul-
University of Texas at Arlington, “Wall Rider”
tural differences, but also address the harsh seasonal
The design is nearly invisible at first glance.
changes experienced in the upper Midwest. Additionally, However, the way the shape is gently tucked into
participants were challenged to utilize green building the landscape draws you in and you want to know
principles throughout the design process, including con- more. Upon further review one starts to realize the
sideration of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) level of in depth research that went into the overall
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) design. From new and modern ways of using vinyl
building standards. Competition objectives included as a sustainable building product to old “tricks”
developing knowledge about materials, products and of building into the earth, the teams design would
installation, as well as creating a efficient and creatively make anyone happy to visit.
designed facility would endure as a landmark on the
river front for years to come. The jury awarded Honorable Mentions ($750) to the
following: Michael Zabinski (Dalhousie University,
Submissions were evaluated based on ingenuity and “Beacon ‘63”), Ksenia Kagner, Gabrielle Poirier,
originality, as well as appropriate use of sustainable Simon Bastien and Michael Faciejew (McGill
products and design clarity. The designer (or team) University, “Push, Pull, Float”) and Kenner Carmody
was given a set of general site information and brief (Louisiana State University, “Krajka-da’lat”).
background of the site’s history.
The winning projects will be featured at the 2010 AIA
National Convention and Design Exposition in Miami,
June 10 – 12, 2010. Winning projects can also be viewed
crit69 spring 2010

on the AIAS Web site at www.aias.org/vinyl. C


First Prize Second Prize
John Vierra Varia Smirnova
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Oscar Rosello
University of Texas at Arlington

12 55
Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Honorable Mention
Michael Zabinski Ksenia Kagner, Kenner Carmody
Dalhousie University Gabrielle Poirier, Louisiana State University
Simon Bastien
Michael Faciejew
McGill University
crit69 spring 2010
REVIEWS reviews

2009 AIAS/AARP
Livable Communities
Design Competition

The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Prizes were awarded as follows:
and Trespa North America Ltd. announced the winners
of their inaugural national student design competi- First Place ($2500)
tion. The competition, sponsored by Trespa North Matthew Conway and Nicolas Pajerski – University
America through the Trespa Design Centre in New of Nebraska, “Modern Bebop”
York and administered by AIAS, challenged students The team’s modern design serves as a great inser-
to learn about building materials, specifically Trespa tion space to the historic jazz center of Kansas City.
wall panels, in the design of a city entertainment cen- By dividing the programming of the entertainment
ter. University of Nebraska’s  Matthew Conway and center the final design feels less massive within the
Nicolas Pajerski were awarded first place and $2,500 neighborhood while the unique design stands out
enough to draw visitors. It is refreshing to see the
for their design, “Modern Bebop”.
walls systems be used in such a non-traditional
manner, and the jury applauded the designers for
The competition had registrations from 39 different
their willingness to step outside of the materials
schools and universities. Participants were required to
comfort zone.
research, respond to and highlight the unique aspects
of designing city entertainment center that not only Second Place ($1500)
embodied the their selected site’s history and cultural Roman Pohorecki – University of Washington,
differences, but also address the needs of designing “Networking Hubs: Media Center on Capitol Hill”
an urban structure with a vast range of programming It is amazing how powerful a building can be when it
requirements. Additionally, participants were chal- is thought of as an anchor and not an object within a
lenged to utilize green building principles throughout community. The large open atrium and pass-through
the design process, including consideration of the from the city and the proposed subway hub under
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in the building showed that Roman’s design ideas
Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building went far beyond just planning a building.
standards. Competition objectives included develop-
ing knowledge about Trespa materials, products and Third Place ($750)
installation, as well as creating an exciting facility that Do Young Chung – Harvard University Graduate
would serve as a landmark to the neighborhood while School of Design, “Dream Factory”
attracting more revenue for the community. Detroit continues to be one of the most interesting city
case studies in North America. Designing a cutting
Submissions were evaluated based on ingenuity and orig- edge urban hall that focuses on the interior shows that
even in the “urban core” of a dead city a building can
inality, as well as appropriate use of sustainable products
support the needs and goals of a community.
and design clarity. The designer (or team) was allowed to
select a site of their choice so long as the neighborhood
In addition to the cash prizes, the first place team of
population being served exceeded 25,000.
Matthew and Nicolas were invited to speak at an event
hosted in their honor at the Trespa Design Centre in
New York.
crit69 spring 2010

The winning projects will be featured at the 2010 AIA


National Convention and Design Exposition in Miami,
June 10 – 12, 2010. Winning projects can also be viewed
on the AIAS Web site at www.aias.org/trespa. C
1
3 2
59
REVIEWS reviews

AIAS/Kawneer Student
Design Competition:
Municipal Courthouse
The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) organization throughout the floorplan offered a combi-
and Kawneer Company, Inc. announced the winners of nation of aesthetics and functionality. The courthouse
the fourth annual national student design competition. incorporated Kawneer’s 1600 Wall System® curtain
The competition, sponsored by Kawneer and adminis- wall, which was selected by Laine for its stability and
tered by AIAS, challenged students to learn about build- flexibility. The curtain wall was modified to include
ing materials, specifically architectural aluminum building horizontal louvers on all exposed southern glazing,
products and systems, in the design of a municipal court- designed to be deep enough to prohibit solar angles
house. Ball State University’s Eric Laine was awarded first in the summer months yet shallow enough to allow the
place and $2,500 for his design, “Justice Center”. benefits of solar heat gain in the winter months.

The competition received submissions from 46 different Second Place ($1500)


schools and universities throughout the United States, Hugh Bitzer – University of Oregon, “Visions of Justice”
with at least 11 universities adopting the competi- With a vision of transparency, this innovative and
tion as a class project. Participants were required to “mature” design was inspired by the desire to expose
research, respond to and highlight the unique aspects and understand the judicial system. Using a range of
of designing a municipal courthouse that embodied Kawneer curtain wall and sunshade systems, Bitzer
the surrounding community’s history, religious and was able to create a dynamic outer skin that incorpo-
secular beliefs, and cultural differences. Additionally, rated daylighting and sustainability.
participants were challenged to utilize green build-
ing principles throughout the design process, includ- Third Place ($750)
ing consideration of the U.S. Green Building Council Greg Hittler – Ball State University,
(USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental “HeterogeneousStitching”
Design (LEED) building standards. Competition objec- Non-traditional in its use of materials, this uniquely
tives included developing knowledge about materials, designed courthouse had a visual continuity that
products and installation, as well as creating a secure established its presence as a symbol of authority
facility that looks to fulfill the civic, cultural and service
for the city. Hittler’s design investigated the idea of
needs of the community – today and in the future. curtain wall, combining heavy and light elements.
Jurors commented on the mature feel of the space,
Submissions were evaluated based on ingenuity and as well as the circulation plan that demonstrated a
originality, as well as appropriate use of sustainable level of creative investigation.
products and design clarity. The designer (or team) was
able to select any site from one of five metropolitan areas The jury awarded Honorable Mentions ($500) to the
across the U.S.: Atlanta, Chicago, Portland, San Diego following: Lauren Comes and James Moehring (Ball
or Washington. State University, “Portland Municipal Courthouse”),
Kelly Goffiney (Ball State University, “Convergence”)
Prizes were awarded as follows: and Jessie Rabideau and Jonathon Meier (Ball State
University, “Transformation”).
First Place ($2500)
Eric Laine – Ball State University, “Justice Center” The winning projects will be featured at the 2010 AIA
Laine’s intriguing design revealed a building that was National Convention and Design Exposition in Miami,
crit69 spring 2010

not only iconic, but provided a real landmark feel for June 10 – 12, 2010. Winning projects can also be viewed
the City of Portland. His creative use of space and on the AIAS Web site at www.aias.org/kawneer. C
1
First Prize
Eric Laine
Ball State University

2
Second Prize
Hugh Bitzer
University of Oregon

3
Third Prize
Greg Hittler
Ball State University

61
REVIEWS reviews

Lauren Comes
James Moehring
Ball State University

Jessie Rabideau
Jonathon Meier
Ball State University
crit68 fall 2009
Last word

Raimund Abraham I offer an alternative way of making architecture and I believe that architecture can only be understood as a
1933-2010 accept the irreconcilable conflict between text and polarity between geometric and physiological space, or a
image, the spoken word and silence. I became part of collision between the ideal and matter. And while the ideal
a family of few who broke with the conventions dictatedrepresents the notion of infinity, or let us say, the eternal,
by the profession of architects, to pursue architecture as
matter can be regarded as the symbolic representation
a discipline, of the arts, challenging known boundaries,
of the body, its presence and its absence. To put it in
working in solitude for a new architecture of solitude.other words, while man’s conceptual powers aspire
to the infinite, his body is essentially fragile, temporal,
Today, these few have become fewer, or almost extinct. a corpse which would be laid waste like material itself
We are in the state of celebrities, engaging in an by the unremitting action of time. If there remains any
architecture of spectacles. Celebrity has become a hope for recreating the iconic in the modern world then
new artform, and, as described by Daniel Boorstin in surely this will only come from the reinterpretation of the
his book from 1962, The Image, celebrities are “well- archetypical existence of man. That is to say, new icons
known for their knowness,” human pseudo-events, cannot possibly be established on the basis of motives
illuminated by publicity. drawn or transported from technology.

The architecture of spectacles has become an extreme A drawing for me oscillates between the idea and the
face of capitalism; according to the philosopher physical built reality of architecture. It is not a step
Giorgio Agamben everything is exhibited in separation toward this reality, and in this respect is autonomous.
from itself. Spectacles and consumption are two sides However, there must be latent some anticipation of the
of a single possibility of using. What cannot be used physical reality and its cooperation with the idea. In this
is given over to consumption, or to speculation, or to sense an architectural drawing can never be rendered.
spectacular exhibition. On the contrary, it has to be constructed.

It is no coincidence that museum has become the What this means is that you don’t have to be a slave in
overvalued program for this new architecture of a corporate office or a groupie of a celebrity architect.
spectacles. Everything today can become museum, All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil, and the
because this term simply designates an exhibition of an desire to make architecture.
impossibility of using. The museum occupies exactly
the space and function once reserved for the temple The remarks above are from “The Profanation of Solitude”,
as a place of sacrifice. The pilgrims who would travel a lecture given on March 4, 2010 at the Southern California
across the earth from temple to temple, correspond to Institute of Architecture. Abraham was killed in a car
the tourists who restlessly travel in the world that has accident later that night. He was 76.
been abstracted into a museum.

This new architecture of spectacles seems to be void


of a social mission, [unconcerned with] confronting
the fate of human existence. It furthermore signifies the
return to recognizable styles defined by pure formal
manipulations: The twist, the hula-hoop, and creature-
features became dominant influences on this definitely
new but unsubstantiated architecture. Space and time
remain formal abstractions, untouched by the necessity
Creative: Design Army

to be transformed into place and event, the sacred


thresholds of architecture.
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Crit / Journal of the American Institute of Architecture Students / Spring 2010 / Issue 69
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